Softball ready for Western rivalry game

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Softball ready for Western rivalry game

Taelor Griffin passes the ball to first base in an attempt to out a Western Oregon University in the top of the fourth inning

Taelor Griffin passes the ball to first base in an attempt to out a Western Oregon University in the top of the fourth inning

Xander Fu

Taelor Griffin passes the ball to first base in an attempt to out a Western Oregon University in the top of the fourth inning

Xander Fu

Xander Fu

Taelor Griffin passes the ball to first base in an attempt to out a Western Oregon University in the top of the fourth inning

Hanson Lee, Sports Editor

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Coming off a doubleheader sweep against Concordia last weekend, the Wildcats are looking for a rivalry matchup against Western Washington University (WWU) on Saturday, April 7. With an overall record of 21-8, and a conference record of 9-3, the Wildcats are preparing for what will be their first meeting with WWU this season.

“It doesn’t matter who we play,” head coach Michael Larabee said. “We want to come out and play our game and let them worry about shutting us down.”

With their winning record, the Wildcats are currently sitting atop the GNAC while WWU sits at seventh with an overall record of 11-23 and a conference record of 5-10.

In preparation, Larabee made his expectations clear and said that the Wildcats are making improvements on the defensive end while also working to stay sharp offensively.

“Continuing to tighten up our defense… That’s been a little bit of our Achilles’ heel,” Larabee said. “A high level of catch is the foundation of a great defense.”

Senior catcher Jacie McDaniels has played a critical role towards the success of the Wildcats so far this season. In 27 games on the offensive end, McDaniels has accumulated 25 hits in 87 at-bats for a batting average of .305 and has been able to amass a team-leading 21 RBIs so far this season.

“I expect us to do well and I expect us to leave it on the field,” McDaniels said. “Being a senior, [I’m] really trying to get everybody going and enjoy it.”

McDaniels has been able to bring herself into a leadership role this season for the Wildcats. McDaniels emphasized her motivation to lead by example in preparation for the team’s upcoming rivalry game against WWU.

“I feel like people look up to us,” McDaniels said. “With my other seniors, people have such high expectations that we try to keep it going and keep everybody motivated.”

In order for the team to be successful come Saturday, it’s critical that the team stays focused and doesn’t worry about their overall record, according to McDaniels.

We need to “keep on going out there like we’re 0-0 right now,” McDaniels said.

Fellow senior outfielder Celine Fowler has also been a key contributor for the Wildcats this season. In 28 games, Fowler has been able to find her share of success at the plate alongside McDaniels, stringing together 26 hits in 90 at-bats for a .289 batting average.

“We are preparing like we do every other weekend,” Fowler said. “I think we all go in there playing more relaxed and being ready for the outcome that’s going to happen and pushing ourselves to be the best that we can.”

Fowler has also been able to implement herself into a leadership role for the Wildcats this year. According to her, it’s always been about passing on the torch and setting the right example for her younger teammates that are going to be the future of the softball program.

“I always try to be the loudest on the field and I always try to keep the energy up and be encouraging to my teammates,” Fowler said. “I want my teammates to feel loved by the seniors and I want them to be ready to be leaders when they’re older.”

In what will surely be a competitive atmosphere this Saturday when WWU comes to town, there’s always a certain amount of pride that comes with playing against your biggest rival. For the Wildcats, it’s all about sticking to their strengths and not letting anything get in the way of what they do best.

“It’s always nice to beat your arch rival,” Larabee said. “We’ve got a system in place [and] we’ve got talent… There’s nothing special we have to do except keep doing what we’re doing.”

     

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